Taos is a great place to travel back in time. From the dramatic landscape to the softened colloquial architectural styles of the structures in town, there are ample opportunities to feel as though you’ve been transported into the past.
There is a place where that is especially easy, and there’s an annual event coming up there that really can fool with your temporal sensibilities. That’s the annual Old Taos Trade Fair at the Hacienda de los Martínez, 708 Hacienda Road, just a short drive southwest from the center of town. The fair is happening Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 24-25), with demonstrations and special events scheduled throughout the day from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The hacienda hosts the Old Taos Trade Fair each year, sustaining the traditional role of Taos as a gathering place for folks to meet and trade goods. It’s become a family tradition to attend and sample what life was like in the old days.
The hacienda is located on the banks of the Rio Pueblo. The fortress-like building, with its massive adobe walls and no exterior windows, is one of the few remaining Northern New Mexico style Spanish Colonial haciendas open to the public. With parts of the hacienda dating back to the late 1700s, it served as a safe refuge for neighbors and valuable livestock during colonial-era Comanche and Apache raids.
The Old Taos Trade Fair “aims to exemplify and demonstrate the very old Taos-area capacity for intercultural exchange, trading, and ceremony from olden times to the present,” Taos Historic Museums board member David Fernandez said in a telephone conversation about this long-running annual hail to the past.
“The Trade Fair will carry forward the centuries-old custom of setting aside, at least for a while, the ongoing concerns of our diverse populations in this part of the country in favor of reconciliation of various kinds of debts and differences among our peoples” Fernandez continued.
He then mentioned the recent protests at the entrada of the fiestas in Santa Fe as an example of why reconciliation of differences is needed. Protestors at that event were calling for a re-examination of the celebration of the so-called 1692 “re-conquest” of New Mexico following the 1680 Pueblo Revolt and figures like the conquistador, Juan de Oñate, who established the first Spanish colony near Ohkay Owingeh in 1598.
“Representatives of our varied cultural groups will come together and exchange uplifting words and song and music and dance in behalf of the larger human vision for the greater benefit, and vendors and artists and artisans will showcase their works and produce for sale and for trade,” Fernandez said.
“This year’s Old Trade Fair will also pay tribute and gratitude to those who have given their time and talent on behalf of the Martínez Hacienda, including Dolly and Teodoro Mondragón, Mary and Eloy Jeantete, Elma and Martin Torres, Lydia Garcia, Cecilia Martínez y Salazar, and Carmen Velarde among others,” Fernandez said. “An ‘In Memoriam’ service will also be given for Vicente M. Martínez, Cecelia Martínez Torres, Padre Antonio José Martínez, Cristobál Martínez, and others of the many old Taos family lineages,” he added.
“This Trade Fair will be open to those who wish to demonstrate and trade and sell their works, including santeros, carvers, other artists, as well as harvest produce and products, and more.”
The Taos Trade Fair has events scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission is $6 per person and free for those age 12 and under. A special family rate of $20 is also available for adult families of four or more.
For more on the upcoming Old Taos Trade Fair contact the Martinez Hacienda at (575) 758-1000 for information and referrals. You can also email Fernández at email@example.com or call (575) 758-7608.
General schedule of events
Saturday (Sept. 24)
9:30 a.m. Entrada participants gather by the bridge over the Rio Pueblo de Taos.
10 a.m. Entrada opening ceremony begins with a Rio Pueblo water blessing by Taos Pueblo Gov. Benito Sandoval. Entrada procession enters hacienda courtyard led by Francisco Gonzales’ Los Comanches. Invocation and blessing for the event at the hacienda capilla (chapel) by Father Daniel Gutierrez, the present Cura de Taos. Taos Historic Museums Board President Margo Beutler welcomes attendees. David Fernandez explains the fair’s theme of cultural reconciliation and will announce the list of honorees and the “In Memoriam” service, which will take place Sunday (Sept. 25). The Comanches will dance, drum and sing; and there will be comments by Francisco Gonzales.
1 p.m., Cipriano Vigil and Son will perform.
2 p.m. Taos Pueblo family of Mike Concha will drum, dance and sing.
3 p.m. Dance performance by Children’s Flamenco
4 p.m. Storytelling by The Woodman, followed by demonstrations and activities by the mountain men encampments
Sunday (Sept. 25)
10 a.m. Grounds open
11 a.m. Lecture and discussion by Skip Miller, “Slave Trade and Taos Trade Fairs”
Noon Alabados, drum and talk by Dexter Trujillo from the Abiquiu Genizaro Pueblo of Santo Tomás, Apóstol
1 p.m. Performance by former Taos Mayor Darren Córdova
2 p.m. Performance by Jaguars Encantado Mariachi
3 p.m. Josefina Montoya Children’s Fashion Show
4 p.m. Prayer and discussion about the Martinez Hacienda santos collection, “Los Santos: The Saints of Taos Valley” by David Fernández
5 p.m. In Memoriam service for the deceased members of the Martinez family and the old family lineages of the Taos and Northern New Mexico families
6 p.m. Closing event
• Colcha Embroidery with Connie Fernandez and Sharon Arellano
• Santos Carving with Leonardo Salazar, Daniél Rael, Luis Barela and others of the legendary santero, Patrocinio Barela, family line
• THM Board Member Daniél Barela will also be coordinating several youth activities such as Retablo Painting and perhaps a Busca de Tesoros (Treasure Hunt)
And the many activities by the mountain men encampments
There will be a wide variety of vendors and traders including different arts and harvest produce. Anyone may participate, although Fernandez stressed it is not a yard sale kind of event. He added there is a nominal fee to set up for the two days of $30. If you’re interested in participating as a seller, he said you should call beforehand to make set-up arrangements.